Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Today I had a lot of stuff going on in the morning and I didn’t know how to fit a workout in. I decided to set the alarm and go to the gym really early, before the kids were up getting ready for school. What? I wanted to get up early to exercise? Who am I? This behavior is completely unprecedented.
For years people have told me, “You’re such a strong woman.” I hear it quite often. Every time I hear that, there is a coda in my head, “It’s just a front.” People always say that I’m strong, but I’ve known all along that it’s just an act. I puff myself up big and make noise like I’m strong. I know how to sound like I’m a tough, rational woman, but it’s just pretend. I wish I were a strong woman, but the act is all I got.
Inside I’ve always known that I’m not really smart, not really savvy, and definitely not one to make sound choices. It’s just not who I am. A strong woman is not obese, divorced, and unemployed. I talk a great game though. Nobody can fake Strong Woman like me. That’s why I hear, “You’re amazing,” so often. And right after I hear it, my brain gives me the coda, “It’s just an act.”
One of the things that I was busy with today was meeting with a friend. I was commenting on some of the changes that have been taking place in my behavior and the impact on my relationships. My friend said, “Most don’t know how to deal with a strong, independent person.” It’s the first time that I’ve heard it that afterward there was just internal silence. No, actually there was internal agreement. I actually had to stop the conversation because I was having an epiphany in that moment. I am a strong woman when I CHOOSE to be. It’s not like I am genetically predetermined to be weak and depressed. It’s a choice, or rather, a series of choices! Today I chose to get up in the dark in order to go exercise. Tomorrow I’ll make choices at Thanksgiving dinner. I’m making choices about my behavior in relationships. I realize that I sound like an idiot saying this, but I can choose the things that will make me strong. I can choose to be a strong person through my actions. It’s just that simple, if I let it be that simple.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Jealousy is ugly. I’ve been thinking about this emotion in the last couple days. I’ve only ever been in love with two men. Angus was jealous of the idea of me with other men. Robert actually accused me of cheating on him. I’ve had other men express jealous thoughts. But what occurred to me recently is that I’ve never had a man jealous that my mind was going to something else or jealous that my heart was going to someone else. Men only get jealous of my sexual desire, or more specifically, who has access to my kitty. It’s not the essential Jen, my mind or my heart, that they are jealous about. It’s a body part. What is crazy is that both of these men had ample access to my kitty and for a variety of reasons didn’t take advantage, but boy, were they mad when the idea of somebody else getting it popped into their head. And thus it dawns on me that jealously is NOT a loving emotion.
I know, I know. It seems obvious right? Well, I’m a slow learner, ok? There was a time when I thought jealousy was flattering. “He loves me so much! He doesn’t want anyone to have me!” Oh, hell no. The reality is that he is so insecure that he can’t take anything that threatens his manhood. It’s all about him and his own ego. It has nothing to do with me what-so-ever. If anything, it’s damaging to me. When a man is jealous and dumps it on me, he is punishing me emotionally because he can’t handle his own inadequacies. Jealousy is not a man expressing his love for me. It’s an expression of his own fear and pain about himself.
Sheesh. I wish I had realized this a loooooooong time ago.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
My mother is a glutton. I don’t know how else to describe it. She takes a perverse pleasure in an abundance of food. For some reason, it’s the quantity of good food that makes her feel… whatever it is it makes her feel. I’ll try to illustrate. There are usually 6 people at Christmas dinner. When she makes the giant turkey, she also makes a ham. For side dishes, she makes a vat of mashed potatoes, a large pan of sweet potatoes, 2 giant pans of stuffing, corn, another vegetable, rolls, a relish tray, and crackers with a salmon spread. Then there’s pumpkin pie, pecan pie, apple pie, chocolate cake, jello, and several different kinds of cookies and fudge. There is enough for 20 guests easily. All of this is just for our family of 6. You might think this is just holiday insanity. Oh no. This is how she cooks for us normally. If she makes hamburgers, there are also baked beans, potato salad, a green salad, corn chips, potato chips, and again, the relish tray.
I once attempted to talk to my mom about this need for massive quantities for food. Her denial of personal responsibility was immediate. “Oh, it’s a Southern thing. That’s the culture I was raised in.” Hmm… let’s examine that, shall we?
Mom was born in California in 1949. Her parents were share-croppers from Arkansas who moved when the war ended. They had been barely getting by with one daughter and then when Grandpa joined the Navy, he saw that there were opportunities elsewhere. They moved to Port Hueneme, California and Grandpa took a job on the naval base as a civilian. A little while later, Grandma found herself pregnant again and that was my mom. Mom was the first in the family to be born in a hospital, the same hospital that I would be born in 25 years later.
They lived a basic, working class life. Mom essentially grew up as an only child because her sister was 12 years older. She got married and moved out when Mom was 5. They were comfortable, but hardly living in luxury. I’ve heard Mom bitch that they would never let her get a big Christmas tree because it was too expensive. They were also devout Baptists, so extravagance was definitely not part of their vernacular. But she was exposed to her Southern roots. In the summer, they would drive to Arkansas for their family vacation.
Now remember she comes from share-croppers. These are farmers who don’t own their own land, but rather work the cotton fields of land owners in exchange for living on the land and a small percent of the crop yielded. In other words, they were dirt poor. When she talks about her extended family, she talks about her dad bringing them groceries because they would literally be subsisting on biscuits and flour gravy. She was the “wealthy” kid from California.
Now where in the world does she claim this “culture of abundance” comes from? Her plain Baptist parents? Her barefoot, cotton-picking cousins? Please, explain to me how you get the cultural expectation of needing a turkey AND a ham for Christmas dinner out of that? I might buy it if she would admit that her need for abundance has something to do with feeling deprived as a child, but that’s a stretch. Pete was deprived. Nanci, who changed the “y” to “I” in the 60s to be cool :), had two good, upstanding parents, a stable home life, and plenty to eat.
I honestly don’t get it. I have been disgusted by it for most of my adult life. I am embarrassed to sit down to dinner most nights. It’s too much. But it get’s weirder of course…
During my childhood, Mom told me not to eat too much because I would get fat, all while providing more food than any one person should ever eat. She was particularly invested in my breast size, repeatedly offering to pay for reduction surgery, even though I repeatedly told her, “No way!” So eating too much would make me fatter but Mom kept laying out the spread anyway. And you can’t turn it down. She takes it very personally if you don’t eat what she has cooked. Jesus, watch out if you don’t appreciate it. A common refrain is, “Jenny, why can’t you just say ‘thank you’!” So I’m a bad daughter if I DON’T eat it and I’m a fat daughter if I DO! What the hell is the right choice here?
See, Dad’s hang-ups make sense to me. Plus, he acknowledges them somewhat, even though he seems incapable of changing them. Mom’s weirdness over food makes NO SENSE. Why do we need so much? Why does she need us to be so fawning and grateful? Why can’t she acknowledge it’s about her needs, not ours? And most importantly, why can't she make the connection between the volume of food and the obesity that plagues us. It baffles me.
But not as much as the true psycho of the family…
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Alright, it seems that I need to tackle the Friends With Benefits topic. I’m getting a lot of questions about it. Let me start by saying that I actually overuse the term. I throw it around to mean anybody that I’ve seen more than once and slept with at least once, basically because I don’t have a term for guys that are in that weird limbo of not my boyfriend, not a real friend, yet I’ve had sex with. This is different from a ONS: One-Night Stand. Those are easy to identify. I’ve only had two real Friends With Benefits in my lifetime. One is still going strong at 2.5 years. The other turned into a boyfriend and that was not good.
I’ll start with Classic FWB. I met him during my VERY slutty phase after the divorce when ONSs were the norm. He called me back for a second ONS; is that an oxymoron? Weirdly, the second time we got into a lengthy discussion about philosophy. That was the start of being friends, at least on my part. I began to think this is somebody worth talking to. Over the next 2.5 years, we’ve gotten together semi-regularly for great sex and great conversations.
The most common question is, “If you can sustain a relationship for that long, why are you not a couple?” My answer is, “He’s a great friend but I’d hate him if I had to spend any real length of time with him.” The only reason we work is because we know that it’s NOT going anywhere. I could give you a whole list of why he’s wrong for me and why I’m wrong for him. In the beginning, maybe even the whole first year we knew each other, I had what I thought were romantic feelings for him. But the more I got to know him, the more I realized I wasn’t in love with him. I was in love with the idea of him. He’s 10 years younger, he’s free to do what he wants, he’s fit and good-looking, he’s intelligent, and kinda dangerous. Once I got over that romanticizing, then things went from rocky and sometimes good to pretty consistently great. I know who he is when he’s with me and I know the parameters are not going to change. That’s remarkably freeing. I can enjoy time with him without all the garbage that is normally in between me and men.
FWB 2.0 was Robert. I met him while I was living in Houston during the summer of 2008. We started out as great friends, with great benefits. Both of us knew that it wasn’t going to be anything more than a summer fling because we live 2500 miles apart. Duh. That freed me up to say what I was honestly thinking and just be myself. He could either take it or leave it. And he took it. When I went home to Oregon, things got messy. He started calling me every day and saying sweet things and dammit if my heart didn’t get all stupid and start making the decisions.
I was supposed to go back to Houston in the Fall and I got all twitchy. I didn’t want to sleep with him because suddenly I “liked” him. Well, I went down there and I did sleep with him but things were not the same. I found myself holding my tongue more and trying to make him like me. Hello, Jen? He liked you before! After that I asked him to be my boyfriend and the rest is tragic history. Both of us started acting differently and soon, neither one of us liked ourselves OR each other. I am still kicking myself that we didn’t just stay friends. We were good friends and the sex was a great bonus. I know we would have lasted a LOT longer if things hadn’t gotten romantic.
So there you have it. I think you can be friends with a man AND have sex with him. It's complicated but it works when both parties are honest with why they are there and there is time apart to process for yourself. It doesn’t mean I don’t want a partner. I do, when the time and the man are right. In the meantime, I’d rather sleep with someone who respects me and who I trust than a stranger.